The World Health Organization released new air pollution guidelines Wednesday to protect the almost 7 million people who prematurely die from exposure to low air quality levels.

The guidelines set new air quality levels for certain pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. In the guidelines, the WHO urged nations to move toward clean sources of energy in order to prevent cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that contribute to premature deaths.

"A substantial new body of evidence has accumulated, further demonstrating the degree to which air pollution affects all parts of the body from the brain to a growing baby in a mother's womb at even lower concentrations than previously observed," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference.

The WHO noted that children exposed to air pollution could develop respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. Adults are more at risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions. 

"This puts the burden of disease attributable to air pollution on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking," the organization said.

These findings were released with about a month left until COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference set to start on Oct. 31 in Glasgow, Scotland. 

Ahead of the meeting, the world’s Least Developed Countries expressed concern they were not going to be able to attend the conference due to COVID restrictions. These 20 “red list” countries are some of the most affected by climate change and air pollution, such as Bangladesh and Haiti. 

"Our countries and our people are among the worst affected by climate change – we must not be excluded from talks deciding how the world will deal with this crisis, determining the fate of our lives and livelihoods," LDC chair Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi of Bhutan said in a statement.